It’s shaping up to be one of those seasons.
We’re only one month into the 2016 season, and already the injuries are piling up. We’ve already seen my No. 1 defensive lineman (J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans) and my No. 1 linebacker (NaVorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers) entering the season go down for the year with serious injuries. Players like Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, who were being counted on as weekly IDP starters, are on the shelf indefinitely.
Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. Rookie linebacker Cory James of the Oakland Raiders has risen from obscurity to top-20 status. Ditto for fellow rookie Jatavis Brown of the San Diego Chargers. And with Bowman sidelined, Michael Wilhoite and safety Antoine Bethea should pile up tackles in San Francisco.
All you can really do is roll with the punches. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have….
Now you’ll have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day (you’re welcome). It’s time for the Week 5 edition of IDP Studs and Duds here at Fantasy Sharks.
Each week during the 2016 season, I’ll point out some Individual Defensive Players who could be set to exceed expectations this week (Studs), as well as some that for whatever reason are riskier plays than normal (Duds).
This isn’t necessarily to say that every “Stud” is a must-start (it depends on your other options) or that every “Dud” should be glued to your bench (just that the odds of a letdown week are greater than usual).
There are four teams on a bye in Week 5 – the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. No Bobby Wagner, Derrick Johnson or Telvin Smith this week kiddies. Not even waiver darling Craig Robertson, whose run of fantasy relevance may be nearing its end.
Numbers in parentheses denote ranking in fantasy points allowed to that position in 2015 in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
IDP START OF THE WEEK
Will Compton – ILB, Washington Redskins (at BAL) (5)
Compton himself isn’t afraid to admit what we all already know – the Redskins have struggled against the run of late. In fact, the third-year linebacker recently left a real zinger of a comment on an Instagram post made by teammate Su’a Cravens. “Stop the run bro,” Compton relied to a photo of Cravens wagging his finger last week against the Cleveland Browns. “Y’all are a**.”
It’s a pretty accurate observation, really – the Redskins have made just about every tailback they’ve faced look like a Pro Bowler this year. This week’s star in the making is Terrance West and a Baltimore Ravens team that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to linebackers so far this year. The tackles count the same four yards downfield as they do at the line of scrimmage.
WEEK 5 IDP STUDS
Jurrell Casey – DE, Tennessee Titans (at MIA) (3): This might seem a curious recommendation given that Casey has done next to nothing so far this season. However, the fact is that Casey’s a much better player than his 2016 stats indicate, and the Dolphins have had pass protection issues. The sixth-year pro will get his first sack of the season in soggy South Florida Sunday.
Jason Pierre-Paul – DE, New York Giants (at GB) (2): Despite investing a ton of cheddar in the defensive line in the offseason, the Giants currently rank dead last in the National Football League in sacks with four on the season. If ever there was a game for Pierre-Paul and the Giants’ pass rush to get right, it’s Sunday night against a Packers team allowing the most fantasy points per game to defensive linemen in the NFC.
Jabaal Sheard – DE, New England Patriots (at CLE) (4): Pats head coach Bill Belichick told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he’s been pleased by a hot streak that should continue Sunday against his old team. “He’s been productive for us in a lot of different areas. A good kid, works hard, smart, very physically strong for his size, with good instincts, good awareness. He’s a good football player.”
Jerrell Freeman – ILB, Chicago Bears (at IND) (2): Freeman confided to the Indy Star that it’s going to be weird facing his old team Sunday. “It’s crazy,” he said. “You see them on film, and I’m watching games on Sunday and it’s like, ‘Man, this is crazy.’ I guess it’s the NFL. Change comes. You just have to be ready.” No team playing in Week 5 has been kinder to linebackers this season.
Eric Kendricks – ILB, Minnesota Vikings (vs. HOU) (4): The Vikings are the lone remaining unbeaten team for one reason and one reason only – their stifling defense. The defense is actually almost too good for IDP owners’ tastes (they get off the field too quick), but the Texans have a long history of allowing fantasy points to the linebacker spot.
Christian Kirksey – ILB, Cleveland Browns (vs. NE) (3): The Patriots’ favorable rank vs. linebackers (third in PPG allowed) is a bit of a misnomer given how the team relied on the run with Tom Brady out. But Kirksey should still be a solid start in Week 1 of the Brady Revenge Tour – I have a feeling the Cleveland defense is going to be on the field for about 54 minutes.
Morgan Burnett – S, Green Bay Packers (vs. NYG) (4): Burnett sat out Week 3 with an injured groin, but with an extra week to get right thanks to the bye, the veteran safety has been a full participant in practice this week. That means Burnett should be a full participant in IDP lineups against a Giants team that’s been kind to defensive backs in 2016.
Kurt Coleman – S, Carolina Panthers (at TB) (2): Complements of one of the shorter pick-sixes you’re going to see, Coleman finally got off the schneid last week against Atlanta. Week 5’s matchup with the turnover-prone Buccaneers is even better for the ballhawk. After that be prepared to sell high – the tackle numbers just aren’t there with Coleman.
Mike Mitchell – S, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. NYJ) (3): Mitchell’s hardly been setting the stat sheet on fire, averaging only five total tackles a game. From a matchup perspective at least this week sets up well for Mitchell to serve as at least a bye week fill-in – the Jets have given up the third-most fantasy points per game to defensive backs in 2016.